Team Suzuki Press Office – April 21. Crescent FIXI Suzuki’s John Hopkins will start tomorrow’s World Superbike races at Assen from the second row of the grid after recording his best qualifying result of the season so far in The Netherlands this afternoon.
Hopkins (P8, 1’37.913) is still recovering from a pre season injury, but today showed that he is close to full fitness as he put his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 onto the second row. He could easily have been on the front row if chatter hadn’t caused him to abort a flying lap when he looked likely to better his previous best time but is now in a confident mood for tomorrow’s races and feels he can put on a good show at the 4.542m Dutch circuit.
Leon Camier (P12, 1’40.681) will start from the third row for tomorrow’s races after recovering from a massive crash in final practice earlier today to participate in Superpole. The team was forced to use the rolling chassis, but worked hard and built a new bike in time for Camier to do the last 10 minutes of the first ‘Wet Superpole.’ Although he had taken a heavy battering in his fall – bruising an ankle and wrist in the process – Camier defied the pain barrier and qualified 12th fastest.
John Hopkins – 8th, 1:37.913:
“We had every type of weather condition out there today, but one thing was consistent and that was that it was cold all day. Every time I get on the Crescent FIXI GSX-R, I get more and more comfortable with the bike and I feel I’m improving all the time and that’s what I want to carry on doing.
“This morning was pretty bad and we were struggling for grip on the wet track, especially because the track temperature was so low. In the afternoon, when we had some dry track, I began to push harder until the soft tyres started to chatter. It was good to finish the first Superpole with the second-quickest time and we were hopeful of a place on the front row. But our qualifying tyre just didn’t work at all and was chattering so much and the bike was nearly impossible to ride. I would’ve liked to have been on the front row but I normally make good starts so let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Leon Camier – 12th, 1:40.681:
“The conditions were very difficult today, particularly in the morning when it was pretty wet. The track was cold, we struggled for grip; and there was a lot of movement in the tyres. We had some ideas for improvement but we never got a chance to put them into action. In the afternoon untimed practice, I made a little mistake when I hit a wet patch and crashed. I got pretty banged-up and my ankle and left wrist took a bit of a battering. Considering the amount of damage, the boys did an awesome job building a new bike so that I could take part in the first Superpole.
“I managed to get out for the last 10 minutes and further credit to the boys because the bike worked OK without any problems. I missed out on getting into the second Superpole by just a fraction so now I’ve got to get off the line quickly tomorrow and get involved right from the start.”
Jack Valentine – Team Manager:
“I’m pretty happy with the results on what has been a very tough day. The boys did a mega job to get the bike ready for Leon in Superpole. He was pretty bashed up, but wanted to do Superpole and get his confidence back and, in the end, he only just missed out on getting into the second Superpole.
“John was second quickest in the first Superpole despite a lot of chatter from his qualifying tyre. Somehow he rode through it and got into the second Superpole, but this time his qualifying tyre chattered so much it prevented him from pushing hard enough to get on the front row of the grid. We need some time working on the wet set-up but I think John’s getting back to what we know; and as long as Leon is not too sore, I’m sure he’ll be trying to fight with the leaders as well.”
Today’s changeable weather at Assen brought rain and bright sunshine as well as strong winds, and with the same forecast for tomorrow, it could prove a very entertaining race-day. Tom Sykes on a Kawasaki took his third pole position in succession to head the grid.
Hopkins and Camier will take to the track for a warm-up session early tomorrow morning before the first of the two World Superbike races gets underway at 12.00hrs local time (11.00hrs BST).
Assen WSB Superpole 2: 1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 1’35.399: 2. Jonathan Rea (Honda) 1’36.432: 3. Jakub Smrz (Ducati) 1’36.566: 4. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati) 1’36.875: 5. Carlos Checa (Ducati) 1’37.156: 8. John Hopkins (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 1’37.913. 12. Leon Camier (Crescent FIXI Suzuki) 1’40.681.